November 14, 2017

For more than a decade, the Purple Songs Can Fly recording studio at Main Campus has offered a place for cancer patients and patients with blood disorders to express how they feel about their disease and the treatments they are undergoing to battle it. Siblings of such patients also are able to use the studio.

Thousands of songs have been written and produced in the colorful space sandwiched between clinic rooms on the 14th floor of the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. Now, a similar space is available to cancer and hematology patients cared for at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

“Today, we’ve cut the ribbon on our second Purple Songs Can Fly recording studio,” said Purple Songs Can Fly Founder and Executive Director Anita Kruse. “We’ve had a studio at Main Campus since 2006 and now we’ve opened one at West Campus.”

Thanks to support from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Children’s Fund, Kruse has been coming out to West Campus for two years with a portable recording studio, working with patients at their bedside, in clinic rooms or conference rooms to write and produce nearly 100 songs.

“This pilot project proved that a permanent recording studio would be a viable investment at West Campus, Kruse said. “The children were really excited about writing songs here. I feel that the studio and the songs that will be written at West Campus will bring a lot of joy to the families and the children who are here undergoing treatment.”

West Campus Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers Nurse Manager Judy Holloway said the transformation and the impact that Purple Songs Can Fly has on patients, families and staff is remarkable.

“We see miracles happen in the Cancer and Hematology Centers here at West Campus and this studio is a miracle in itself,” Holloway said. “A lot of our children are very sick. Having this available to them here at West Campus is a true blessing.”

Annalisa Cuano, a singer, songwriter and highly trained sound engineer, will manage the recording studio at West Campus. She has been working with Purple Songs Can Fly for two years at Main Campus and has recently spent a lot of her time at West Campus getting the studio ready for its official opening.

“The goal is to get these children out of their heads and able to share who they are and what they are going through in the purple space,” Cuano said. “It’s really incredible to watch. There’s some kind of self-fulfillment or self-validation when you give them their CD.”

Kruse said she is grateful to everyone at Texas Children’s who has helped make the West Campus studio become a reality and is thankful for the funds she received to build and staff the studio. Texas Children’s West Campus Child Life Department supported the build out of the space to prepare it for construction and grants from the Children’s Fund provided funding for the construction of the studio, paid for all of the equipment inside the studio and helped staff the studio for a year.

Carol Herron, coordinator of the Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program, said she looks forward to hearing the music and seeing the smiles on the faces of the composers at the West Campus Purple Songs Can Fly studio.

“What you do makes a difference in the day of a child undergoing treatment of a serious disease,” Herron said to those involved in Purple Songs Can Fly. “Thank you for the gift you give to these families.”

November 7, 2017

Texas Children’s has a new website that recognizes the outstanding accomplishments and successes of our team of more than 3,000 nurses across the organization.

In collaboration with Nursing, Texas Children’s Creative Services team member Bilal Tawil designed the website that includes a welcome video with Chief Nursing Officer Mary Jo Andre and features compelling articles, pictures, videos and animated graphics that spotlight how our nurses have gone above and beyond to spearhead system-wide initiatives to improve patient care, safety and outcomes.

Prior to the website’s launch, Texas Children’s Nursing Outcomes Book was a printed publication that was distributed internally and mailed out to thousands of our health care peers including chief nursing officers of pediatric hospitals across the country and deans from U.S. News’ top 10 nursing schools.

Through this new digital communications platform, website page views can be measured easily and nursing stories and data can be updated more frequently. The site also provides another tool for nursing engagement that complements the Voice of Nursing blog, which was launched in 2014.

Each section of the site – our stories, milestones and awards – demonstrates our nursing team’s continued dedication and hard work, their leadership, and the compassion that goes into the work they do for our patients and families at Texas Children’s each and every day.

Read all about our nursing team’s achievements at Share the link with friends and colleagues, and encourage them to do the same.

Physicians, administrators, former patients and community partners came together at Third Coast restaurant on October 5 for the 5th Annual Transition Medicine Reception.

The event served as an opportunity to discuss the long-term care of Texas Children’s patients and welcome a number of attendees of the 18th annual Chronic Illness and Disability Conference: Transition from Pediatric to Adult Based Care, led by Dr. Albert Hergenroeder, Chief of Adolescent & Sports Medicine. Additionally, the 2017 Benjamin B. Ligums Scholar Award was presented to Dr. Mark W. Stephenson and his Conroe dental practice for his success in following special needs patients through the continuum of care.

The “Transition Medicine Road Trip” took attendees on a journey to the various components of the transition medicine process, with Texas Children’s employees, physicians and former patients at stations talking to attendees about: parent/guardian engagement, patient engagement, partnerships with adult providers, patient education, and technology.

A number of former patients, along with their families were also present to share their personal accounts and experience transitioning from Texas Children’s to adult providers. Stories reflected a wide range of challenges and opportunities that serve as a resource for improving the transition process.

Attendees also participated in a silent auction to score items ranging from Houston Texans items to work from local artists. All funds raised will be used to allot grants for future transition medicine pilots to grow and develop programs and help usher patients into the world of adult care.

October 10, 2017

Three years ago, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus opened an eight-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit thanks to a generous $1 million donation by the Lauren and Lara Camillo family. On October 9, the last chunk of a $50 million capital improvement effort expanded the unit to 22 beds, providing Texas Children’s West Campus and the entire Texas Children’s system with an opportunity to serve more patients and families that need our care.

“This is a huge milestone for West Campus,” said Executive Vice President Michelle Riley-Brown at a ribbon cutting event and celebration. “Our staff has worked tirelessly on this project and the reward of being able to offer more to our patients and families is well worth it.”

Initially, 16 of the beds will be used for intensive care and six will be for acute care. Two of the intensive care beds have negative pressure capability and can be used for isolation. All of the beds provide more privacy for our patients and families, as well as better visibility and workflow for our nurses and other medical staff.

Located on the fourth floor of the hospital and painted in calming pastels, the unit expansion includes two large nursing stations, an advanced practice provider workspace, a simulation room, nutrition room, lactation room, call room and conference space.

The patient rooms are spacious and have a private bathroom and seating/sleep area for family. The rooms are lined with windows that face outside, letting in sunlight and allowing for great views of the hospital grounds and surrounding community. And, sliding doors permit visibility and quickly allow the care team access to the patient to address any emergency.

Equipment in the rooms and on the floor is robust and includes two blood gas machines for respiratory therapy and additional nurse station monitors. In the future, some of the rooms will be able to offer patients who need dialysis the capability of doing so from the comfort of their beds.

“When West Campus first opened, we thought we would be a stopover for patients waiting to be transferred to Main Campus, but that’s not the case, especially now with our expanded capacity,” said PICU Medical Director Dr. Matthew Pesek. “We have the ability to treat just about any patient who comes our way, no matter how complex.”

Karen Sripan, assistant clinical director of the PICU, agreed and said the planning and design of the PICU expansion began in March 2016 and was comprehensive with the goal of having an environment that allows the PICU staff to do more for their patients.

“We were very thoughtful in our design and engaged staff throughout the entire process,” Sripan said. “We also were mindful of ensuring room design consistency with the Woodlands PICU so that the layout of the rooms are familiar to staff and providers working at both campuses.”

Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao received the 2017 Outstanding Junior Member Award from the Child Neurology Society for her discovery of the genetic cause of a neurodevelopmental condition known as the Hypotonia Ataxia and Developmental Disorder Syndrome.

Chao is the clinical instructor in pediatric neurology at Baylor College of Medicine and physician-scientist at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s in the laboratory of Dr. Hugo J. Bellen.

Through large-scale collaborative efforts with the Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) and Baylor Genetics Laboratory (BGL), Chao’s research studies revealed the pathogenic role of damaging genetic changes in Early B-Cell Factor 3 (EBF3) in neurodevelopment and cognition. Her research continues to focus on elucidating the role of EBF3 dysfunction and transcriptional dysregulation of neural circuits in highly prevalent childhood disorders such as intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Davut Pehlivan, a medical resident in pediatric neurology and physician-scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. James Lupski, is the recipient of the 2017 M. Richard KoenigsBerger Scholarship Award from the Child Neurology Society for his studies related to arthrogryposis patients.

Pehlivan analyzed 108 arthrogryposis families using whole exam sequencing approach as part of Baylor-Hopkins Center for Mendelian Genomics initiative. His studies made important contributions to understanding the disease pathogenesis by showing evidence for oligogenic inheritance in arthrogryposis and yielded several novel genes causing arthrogryposis.

The Child Neurology Society established this scholarship award in 2013 to honor the memory of . The awardee is selected between CNS Junior Members/residents submitting the best abstract in the areas of neonatal neurology, genetic diseases, HIV or metabolic disorders.

September 19, 2017

Since the topping out celebration of Texas Children’s Legacy Tower nearly seven month ago, significant construction milestones have been reached inside the tower’s 400-foot-tall structure at Texas Children’s Medical Center campus.

Carefully designed to promote the safest possible environment to care for our most critically ill patients and their families, construction is underway on the patient care rooms in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU), pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and the progressive care unit (PCU). Last year, a series of patient care simulations were conducted to identify and eliminate any latent safety defects in the final design of the critical care tower before actual construction began.

Based on helpful feedback from our providers and patient families, the size of the critical care rooms inside the Legacy Tower will be between 350 to 450 square feet – three times the size of the hospital’s current ICU rooms. The rooms will feature a dedicated family space, a bathroom and shower, and care teams will have enhanced visibility and monitoring between patient rooms and into the patient rooms from the nurses’ work stations. The ICU rooms also will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology including a boom that will provide gas, power and data from the ceiling.

“Booms allow us to position the patient almost anywhere in the 360-degree circle,” said Chief of Critical Care Medicine Dr. Lara Shekerdemian. “This means that we can use some very state-of-the-art equipment for mounting all of the pumps, monitors and ventilators at the patient’s bedside while keeping the equipment off the floor.”

The Legacy Tower’s high intensity operating rooms and intraoperative state-of-the-art MRI suite also will provide dedicated subspecialty care for surgical patients.

“Our pediatric surgical patients are different than other ICU patients,” said Texas Children’s Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Larry Hollier. “For the first time, we’re going to have them in a setting where the care is designed specifically for that surgical patient, and that’s going to be located one floor above the operating rooms. The new tower will help us increase our OR capacity so we are not turning patients away from receiving critical care.”

The Legacy Tower will open in two phases. The first phase will occur in May 2018 when the PICU, PCU, operating rooms and Radiology open. A few months later, the Heart Center will move into the new tower in August 2018.

The 25-floor Legacy Tower will house 126 beds for pediatric and cardiovascular intensive care, six new operating rooms (ORs) with the latest technology to complement the hospital’s existing 19 ORs, and will be the new home of Texas Children’s Heart Center, including the outpatient clinic, four cardiovascular ORs and four catheterization labs. This vertical expansion will help reinvest in the programs needed to provide the highest level of care to our most critically ill patients.

“I don’t know of any other children’s hospital in the country that has the type of experience that Texas Children’s has in bringing all of these elements together,” Hollier said. “With larger, more functional spaces, we will be able to provide patients and families with the best possible environment to receive care.”

August 15, 2017

The National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) recently partnered with Texas Children’s to host a groundbreaking Pediatric Simulation Conference.

Held on August 10 and 11 at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, the conference was the first pediatric simulation course of its kind for the NETEC, which is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

The NETEC is comprised of faculty and staff from Emory University, the University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine and the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, Bellevue Hospital Center. All three of these health care institutions have safely and successfully treated patients with Ebola and have worked diligently to share their knowledge with other health care facilities and public health jurisdictions.

These adult institutions receive funding to train all of the CDC-funded U.S. Ebola treatment and assessment centers in hospital preparedness. They have hosted successful training and simulation courses but none have been pediatrics based. The NETEC chose to come to Texas Children’s to host its premiere Pediatric Simulation Course because of the knowledge and expertise the health system has honed during the past few years since the most recent Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Less than a year after the outbreak, Texas Children’s built and opened the unique Texas Children’s Special Isolation Unit (SIU) so that the health system would be prepared to handle emerging infections as an institution. As a result, the state and the CDC designated Texas Children’s Hospital as one of several pediatric Ebola treatment centers countrywide.

Texas Children’s SIU is the only one of its kind in Texas and the southwest region, and is among the few in the United States designated just for children. Located on the fifth floor of West Campus, the eight-bed unit is fully equipped to care for any infant or child with a serious communicable disease and has all of the measures available to assure safety of the health care team, other patients and their families.

Children coming to the SIU will receive top notch care from a team of highly-trained staff, led by Dr. Amy Arrington, medical director and nursing leader, Sondra Morris.

“This was a great opportunity to show off our unit, our amazing team and our intuition,” Arrington said. “I am quite proud of how hard the SIU team has worked to make sure everyone at the conference had the best possible experience, and I know they all left here knowing Texas Children’s Hospital is more than prepared for any serious communicable disease in the pediatric population.”

Approximately 35 people from around the nation attended the pediatric simulation conference, which consisted of both lectures and clinical simulations, led by 10 NETEC faculty and 10 SIU course directors. Examples of topics covered included: donning and doffing, nursing care considerations in a pediatric biocontainment unit, ethical concerns, and immersive pediatric simulations held is the SIU.

Barb Craft, a clinical service line director with Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, attended the conference and said it and Texas Children’s SIU were amazing.

“Your SIU is so well thought out and a model for any isolation unit, be it adult or Pediatric,” Craft said. “I would highly recommend this course and would like more of Dr. Arrington and her staff’s experience shared in future offerings.”